Theater Masks

Theater Masks

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Master Class

Last night, Caitie and I went to see a production of Master Class at the Kelsey. I had never seen the show before (in fact knew little about it beyond that it was about Maria Callas teaching a, well, master class), but knew I liked the playwright, Terrence Mcnally.

Both of us were surprised by how much we enjoyed the show. The lead actress, Laurie Hardy, who played Callas was absolutely incredible. If nothing else, the sheer amount of lines the actress needs to learn, both in English and Italian, is astounding. More than that, though, Hardy truly embodied the great opera singer - every motion and every line was in character and very specific. It tied in well to her declaration that art is about the specifics - the wigs, the costumes, the stage dust. This line reminded both of us of Sunday in the Park with George, which the show's theme had more than a little in common with. The idea of dedication to one's art, completely, is similar in both shows. The destructive force of these creative types resonates through both shows in fairly similar ways.

The three students who sang during the show had fantastic voices. I've never been a huge opera fan, though I have been known to enjoy a few productions here and there. Generally, I do love the music, but not understanding the language is a turn off for me (and English operas tend to not be very good). Still, with "Callas" guiding us and the students, I was able to enjoy the feelings from the singers and appreciate the difficulty of what they do.

The show was definitely another success for the Kelsey. Despite a couple of duds earlier this year, most of the productions in the subscription so far have made it well worth the cost of the program. Here's hoping the coming musicals are as good!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lego Movie

This is a tough movie to review. The reason for that is I really don't want to give anything away about the movie, though I fear that even that is saying too much.  I'm going to stick with what I can say, and sort of forget about that which I can't.

The movie follows Emmett, an average construction worker Lego, when he discovers that he has found the "piece of resistance" (yes, it's a clever joke that made me chuckle) that will stop the evil Lord Business (bluntness smash!) from using the Kragle on the people of Brickville. What is the Kragle? Well, you'll have to see for yourself, but suffice it to say that the line "Release the Kragle" is uttered very satisfactorily.

Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. The multiple references to various "types" of Legos (Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter etc.) were hugely entertaining for me since I love that type of humor. Green Lantern man-crushing on Superman who wants nothing to do with him absolutely cracked me up.

The jokes came quickly, which in hindsight was a double edged sword. It was wonderful because, hey, it's funny and it makes me want to see the movie again, but it is also a drawback in that I feel like I most likely missed several jokes.

The story was fairly standard action movie fare through the bulk of the film. Ironically, we had just been listening to a podcast about just this topic, and I couldn't help but notice the tropes coming up as we watched the movie. It wasn't until about 2/3 of the way through the movie that it deviated from those tropes, and it when it does, boy is it a doozy. I'm not going to say any more about that - you'll just have to see it for yourself.

The voice talent was top notch - Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill (hey, he's a two time Oscar nominated actor now!), Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Allison Brie...the list goes on and on of the stars who voiced characters in this.

My one real criticism was that some of the action scenes were too fast, too blurry, too chaotic to really tell what was going on. It's a criticism I've had of many action movies and this was no different. I feel action scenes should be crisp - the audience should never lose focus or not understand what they're seeing. There were times during the action scenes that I literally felt like I was just watching a streak of color with no real focus to it.

That said, the movie is very entertaining. The story gets better as it goes, and the theme song ("Everything is Awesome") is a damned catchy tune. It's certainly worth seeing, probably more than once, and I know we'll be there for the inevitable sequel.